Sunday, August 30, 2009

Evolving Utopia -- Afternote 2

I checked it, and the novel can be found on the web at

A long essay with more detail about how the P-matrix works is also still on the web at:

Both could probably use some updating, but I don't have the ambition. I would suggest that if you are seriously interested in reading them that you download them now. There is the swine flu epidemic running around and I've just had my 80th birthday. If I don't keep paying the annual fees they'll vanish off the internet.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Evolving Utopia -- Afternote

I mention the novel "Utopia" and a non-fiction essay that has more details. If you are interested in reading them send me an email and we'll discuss it. I may have to charge you for postage. or

Evolving Utopia Part 25

Part 25: Conclusions

The conclusion of this analysis is that it is possible to eventually evolve into a global civilization that is egalitarian, ecologically responsible and creative. In addition, Barack Hussein Obama has already contributed to that result and is likely to do more.
But it is not clear that we are going to achieve a Utopia in my lifetime, nor Barack Hussein Obama's term of office because we are not yet ready to stop basing our economy on tchotchkes, things which display the unnecessary or wasteful use of resources.

We have been doing that since the neolithic when we invented agriculture and the hierarchical society we thought was necessary to make agriculture function. We invented tchotchkes as devices to identify those who were in charge. That caused us to spend several thousand years maiming and killing each other to allow someone to get to the top of the pile, and wasted a lot of our resources to demonstrate that they were there.
The big difference in the last few centuries is the number of people who can accumulate tchotchkes and claim to sit at the top of the pile; now groups of people, currently bureaucrats, occupy that position rather than a handful of kings and emperors.

That's more democratic, but it is the step before everyone sits at the top of the pile because we are all equal. In the tradition of the Industrial Revolution we do that by having everyone waste resources by accumulating tchotchkes, and there aren't enough resources to do that. We have to do something to break that tradition, and we have little experience in doing that.

We've also wasted a lot of intellectual resources spent to justify oneupmanship, to make it "natural". If anything is natural it is the mutually conformist system we lived in during the Paleolithic, but there are too many of us now to use that.
Even if post-neolithic stratification is ingrained in our traditions There is a way to change. We can bring Western Civilization to a complete collapse, so we have to start again from scratch. Then we might realize we ought to be cooperating rather than making things difficult for one another.

If Western Civilization does collapse there will be a general chaotic anarchy, because Westerners have organized the world for their convenience. However that will be traumatic only for those who depend on civilization and the exploitation of the external proletariat. The external proletariat themselves will probably not be much worse off than they are now and will probably survive to follow the creative minority who set the example [Toynbee's "mimesis"] by building the next global civilization.
Even the lower strata of the Western establishment who can no longer survive by serving the elite, can minimize the trauma by avoiding the conventions of their stratum, reducing the symbolic waste in their lives, and keeping their transactions ethical. If they take the opportunity and make an effort to be autonomous their expectations will be more realistic and their personal solutions more creative.

And there is just the faint chance that the leadership of Barack Hussein Obama may cause Western Civilization to try to avoid a complete collapse by finding a way to reach a stable civilization in a gradual way. That is extremely unlikely, but not totally impossible. To the extent that the populist governments look to global rather than parochial values they can move in the right direction.
The main objection to that process will be that it defies "tradition". However, we have shown that hierarchical systems are so unstable that they have to be regarded as "make do" solutions. Few are so stable that they last more than decades or centuries at best. The real human "tradition" is the way we organized in the paleolithic, which was stable for 50 to 100 millenia. All we have to do is use modern technology to make global consensus possible.

In any case we can feel good that our descendants will probably live in a Utopia that is egalitarian, ecologically responsible and creative. If we have to suffer the destruction of our present civilization and a period of anarchy afterward, it is merely the price we pay for using the shortcut of autocratic religion and politics to solve the problem of coping with agriculture and technology.

And we always have the opportunity to make better choices.

Evolving Utopia Part 24

Part 24: An Alternative Way

A lot of what passes for science is done in fancy laboratory buildings with expensive equipment, and the average person is in no position to challenge it. But we don't have to take it as seriously as the so-called scientists do. What ordinary people can do is use common sense. If some kind of study promises a golden age of technology, then just be patient and that golden age will either come or it won't.
If it just fades away because nobody else gets excited about it, the odds are that it was simply a mistake rather than that the establishment is suppressing it.

The science that seems radical in this essay is not unfamiliar because it was suppressed, it is because it is running against the tide. No scientist wants to oppose Spencerian evolution because the noisy opposition comes from religious fundamentalists, and most scientists would rather not be noticed than be tagged with that lable. Most scientists earn their living in big institutions and they have to go along with the mainstream for fear of losing their jobs. Even tenured academics are reluctant to be unconventional.

I'm retired, so I won't lose my job for what I say. I'll just be ignored. And I do have a Ph. D. in Nuclear Physics from a prestigious institution, so I can use mathematical arguments that are fairly exotic; but that doesn't help much because those who are likely to know enough to be critical aren't interested and those who make their living at evolution don't understand the argument.

Religion is a different matter. It seems strange to me, for instance, that religious experts feel free to tell God what God can and cannot do. But the profession of theological expert is 10,- 12,000 years old, and the tradition is that the professionals can boss God around. Science is a more modern profession so, for all its faults, scientists seldom try to boss nature around. The tradition is that you are supposed to observe things and figure out an explanation that fits the facts.

And the facts that religion has to fit are those of ordinary life, so anybody has the right to play that game. If your religion makes you feel comfortable with life, and there isn't anything about it that contradicts your experiences of ordinary life, then it works for you and you might as well stick with it. It probably wouldn't work for me, but there's no point in your bothering about that.

Now if your religion makes you go around bowed down with guilt, or if you aren't comfortable in its rituals or dogmata, you might as well either change it or become autonomous. The odds are that if the experts in your brand of theology haven't convinced everyone in the world to go along with them (and I mean everyone, not just 80%) then their idea of God isn't God's idea of God. Don't take their expertise seriously.

If my ideas about God make you uncomfortable, then don't take them seriously either.

Now it may well be that unless you are autonomous, deliberately or by accident, you can't consider my ideas about God (or the universe, for that matter) without being uncomfortable. If so you may want to consider becoming autonomous.

The last page described Steve Job's experience. Robert Graves was nearly killed in WW1. Shaw was secretive about his first "death and transfiguration" experience, but more public about the one just before writing Ceasar. Jesus was crucified and Gautama nearly starved to death.

But there may have been lots of people who didn't "almost" die, but actually died, and there may have been lots more who weren't ready to take advantage of the experience. So we have no idea how effective the "death and transfiguration" process is. A handful of examples in 10,000 years doesn't sound encouraging to me.

Also, as far as we know, none of these people deliberately had a "death and transfiguration" experience for the purpose of becoming autonomous. For all we know that may not even work. The superego may have to be surprised or it will defend against the experience. It would be embarrassing to go to the trouble of nearly dying and have it be a waste of time.

But there is another approach.

What the superego does to keep us conformist is to use the Oedipal Trauma to let us experience a sense of fear when it thinks we are going to be nonconformist. That kind of fear is often called "free floating anxiety" or, more poetically, "existential dread". It is quite unpleasant and, if you don't understand what it is about, your normal reaction is to avoid it at all costs.

The superego is very ingenious, so it doesn't only use free floating anxiety. If you have any fear, practical or neurotic, the superego will amplify the fear so that it makes your ego easier to control.

The trick, and it is pretty simple, is to simply experience the specific fear, free floating anxiety or existential dread until you get used to it and learn that there aren't any practical consequences of not doing what the fear is directing you to do. Eventually you get so that you can experience the fear without reacting to it, and then the fear doesn't control you.

One thing to watch out for: the superego will amplify real fears with real consequences. You ignore them at your peril. Just because you are no longer paralyzed by the idea of crossing the street doesn't mean you should walk out into heavy traffic. Becoming inured to experienced fear should give you the opportunity to use common sense, not ignore it.

Another thing to watch out for is to avoid building your own barriers that will alienate you from reality and yourself. Try to make all of your interactions Ethical and try to avoid being in an elite or non-elite position. Being "one up" or "one down" makes it easier for the superego to create an ideology that will provide a basis for anxiety.

Once you have reduced your sensitivity to existential dread you can learn about its sources. If you sense a twinge of fear associated with a thought or action you can push on it until it becomes clear what the superego wants you to avoid.

This is a very useful technique in research on behavior. Most of the radical ideas in this essay, although they may look like common sense the way I explain them, involved a considerable amount of anxiety before they were clarified. They may even allow you the opportunity of experiencing existential dread just by reading them!

Once you have reached the point where you can use your existential dread, rather than having it use you, you can feel free to explore aspects of these ideas that haven't occurred to me. You certainly won't need me to tell you whether you are autonomous or not.

Evolving Utopia Part 23

Part 23: Steve Jobs

The following is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky -- I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation -- the Macintosh -- a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down -- that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me -- I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Steve Jobs is unique, but not because he suffered a "death and transfiguration" experience. We have mentioned several examples of that, including historical examples like Jesus and Gautama Buddha, and modern examples like Shaw, Mozart and Robert Graves.

But Jobs is the only one to have recognized the effect it had on his life and put it on the record. A number of people have found that striking, but, as far as I can tell, nobody has taken it seriously enough to figure out why it worked that way.

We show in this essay that the "Death and Transfiguration" event can happen to anyone and it will produce striking results in those ready to take advantage of it. We also argue that we are facing the decline and fall of Western Civilization, which can be a traumatic experience for most people. This gives us the opportunity to hope that the "decline and fall" we are facing will be difficult enough to offer a "death and transfiguration" event to a group of people who will constitute a "Creative Minority" (in Toynbee's sense) and not so difficult as to require us to repeat the industrial revolution.

With a great deal of luck we can end up with a global population of Shaws and Mozarts, Jesuses and Gautamas; in a civilization that is egalitarian and ecologically responsible.

Evolving Utopia Part 22

Part 22: Autonomy

Autonomous: from the Greek "having its own laws"

"Autonomy" is the term I use for the mental state in which the power of the superego to maintain conformity is significantly diminished. I believe it is equivalent to Zen "Satori"; or the condition of a Gnostic "Pneumatic" or a Shavian "Realist"; or a person who has, in Maslow's terms, "transcended self-actualization"; or a Buddhist who is "Enlightened". There may be differences in these mental states depending on the environment of belief from which they develop, but the general condition is a freedom from the constraint by the traditional or ideological weltanschaung or worldview in which they are immersed. This may show up as a conspicuous iconoclasm or creativity.

That transcendence happens of itself in cases like Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Bernard Shaw, and Robert Graves, during a close approach to physical death which makes the death-threat implicit in the Oedipus complex less significant. This does not always work, however, as illustrated by the case of Flitcraft narrated by the protagonist of Dashiel Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. The implication is that unless one has a mental framework in which the transcendence is possible, even if it has not been experienced, the conditioning to normality eventually wins out. This is presumably what happens in the case of "recovery" from post traumatic stress syndrome.

Transcendence is cultivated deliberately by various oriental "Ways of Liberation", but none of them appears to have a high success rate. It may be that the success they do have is facilitated by being immersed in a community in which there is a belief in the process of transcendence. I suspect that any other belief the community may have is irrelevant.

Transcendence probably has no practical advantage except for facilitating some specialized form of creativity. An example is the case of Steve Jobs of Apple Computer. He described his situation in a commencement address at Stanford University, given in the next part.

Evolving Utopia Part 21

Part 21: Oedipus And The Complex

Freud's interpretation of the Oedipus myth was that men had an inherent desire to have sex with their mother and kill their father. This is unlikely, because it makes the basic assumption that psychology depends critically on gender. But even now we consider incest a sin, which warps our view of the myth. In fact, Oedipus' incest was unimportant.
If incest was not Oedipus' sin, what was?

Consider Oedipus' relationship with his father. They met in the pass leading to Delphi; Laius coming and Oedipus going. Laius demanded precedence, which he expected was his right. Laius had that right by virtue of his position:

as an elder,

as Oedipus' father (though neither knew it) and

as King of Thebes (though traveling incognito).

Laius was thus triply representative of community values. He was the symbol of all that was desirable for the stability of civilization and the preservation of the human species.
Oedipus, however, was a Hero who valued his own will before anything else.

The Hero is the ultimate individualist. If he were not he would not be seeking fame through individual combat with other Heroes and mythical beasts. Oedipus would not give way. He could not give way and be true to his character.

But Laius had the dignity of his position as embodiment of civic values, so he couldn't give way either.

They had to fight, and in the scuffle Laius was killed.

Were it just a battle between two Greek warriors Laius' death would be appropriate, because Laius had already made one attempt on Oedipus' life by having him abandoned in the wilderness. Poetic irony would require that Oedipus get revenge for that attempted murder, even if neither knew what the crime was that was being revenged.

But this wasn't just a fight between individuals, it was the epic symbolic battle between the individual and the community. By entering into that battle Oedipus proved that he was the ultimate kind of sociopath, the nonconforming individualist.

After this Oedipus met the Sphinx, challenged and conquered it, and saved Thebes. As the rescuing Hero he was given the usual reward, i. e., he was married to the recently widowed queen so he could be made king. He did all the things necessary to be a Heroic savior of Thebes.

If Oedipus was not a sociopathic individualist the scenario would not have happened, because Oedipus would have cowered in Thebes with the other respectable, conventional citizens until they all starved to death. Neither Oedipus nor Thebes would have been heard of again, much less be featured in a primary myth.

Oedipus' character as a Hero was necessary to the salvation of Thebes in a crisis, just as Oedipus' character as an individualist was a danger to Thebes when there was no crisis.

Thus Oedipus' individualism was, from the standpoint of the community, simultaneously Oedipus' greatest virtue and greatest sin.

This is the Oedipal Dilemma; that we do not have a choice between conformity and individuality. The Oedipus Complex is the circumstance that in order to preserve the species we must be both individual and conformist.

If this were just a story of an aberrant individual it would not be half so interesting. What makes the Oedipus myth resonate so strongly that people with no knowledge of the rest of greek mythology are familiar with Oedipus is that all of us repeat the Oedipal trauma.

How does the Oedipal Dilemma work in the individual?

It happens at the threshold of becoming a person. The infant has no language but it has a powerful intelligence and intuition. All it has to work with is body language and the utterance of frightening cries or seductive coos. With only those tools it still manages to manipulate its parents into providing food and shelter.

As all non-linguistic animals are, the infant is sensitive to emotional atmosphere. It intuitively recognizes and responds to its parents' fears. A particular parental fear is that the child will not be a person, but a monster-birth. If it is a monster-birth it may well be allowed to die like Oedipus was. At the very least it will not be loved and it is likely to be neglected and abused.

The ultimate monster-birth is when the infant will not become a person, i. e., if it cannot learn to use language. "Baby's first word" is a terrible source of anxiety, and a relief when it finally comes. There is a storm of emotion just at the time the infant is expected to learn to speak.

And yet, as an animal that lives by its intuition and has no concept of language, how is the poor baby to understand what is expected of it? How can it know what it must do in order to live? But somehow it manages, under the most trying of circumstances.

This is the most creative act that a human is capable of, the recognition that the strange noises its parents are making have symbolic significance, and that it must make those noises in strict conformity to those its parents are making.

Because most of us manage to cross that threshold we take it for granted. But it is hard to imagine a more terrifying situation. We must understand that if the child does not show that it is human, its parents, who are the source of nurture, love and life, are also its potential executioners.

We must try to understand that intellectually, because we cannot remember it.

Keeping the complex image of the parents as life givers and as executioners is too much to expect. What we do to protect ourselves is forget: in psychological jargon we 'repress' the memory of the Oedipal Trauma. But a fear that great cannot be eradicated. It floats in the repository of the unremembered to return when it is needed.

Whenever we are non-conformist, deliberately or accidentally, the Oedipal fear recurs as a fear without referent: at different times we experience it as embarrassment or shame, as guilt, as free floating anxiety, as existential dread, or whatever the current popular term might be.

That is the power the Superego has to control our behavior.

That fear returns in a chronic form when we approach the ultimate nonconformity, the creative act. Being creative resonates with that sublime act of creativity, our reinvention of the concept of language, to provide that terrible anxiety that is the ultimate barrier to creativity.

This explanation seems straight-forward, even if it is hard to accept because it resonates with our deepest fears. But Freud was a brilliant student of mental functioning. Why would Freud have interpreted the clear myth of Oedipus as a biological level sexual phenomenon? And why ignore the fact that women function the same way as men aside from a few customs and some reproductive biology?

Freud developed his theory in Victorian Vienna, where the community values were symbolized by the authoritarian father, and love (which was equated with sex) by the mother. The Oedipal Dilemma was easily dichotomized: the need for individuality symbolized by conflict with the father, the need for nurture associated with love from the mother.

Because sexual desire was taboo in public and ubiquitous in private in middle-class Imperial Vienna, so was motherhood and the female gender in general. The repression that Freud experienced was clearly of his subculture.

However, even after stripping the parochialities of the Freudian theories we still have Oedipus as a potent symbol of the need both for the expression of individuality and for conformity to community values. We are all subject to that conflict, and will continue to be its captive till we can free ourselves.

Evolving Utopia Part 20

Part 20: Mind

The need for conformity in language use provides the structure of the model of brain functioning we call "mind". We do not teach babies to speak, we leave it up to them to learn, because before they learn we have no way to communicate abstractions.
This causes considerable anxiety on the part of infant and parent: the parent is afraid that the non-speaking infant is not human, so that "baby's first word" is an occasion for relief and joy; the infant because it senses the anxiety and has to make the mental leap to recognizing that the noises its parents make have an abstract meaning.

It learns that it has to be very conformist to retain its parents' love, without which it won't survive. It grows a part of the mind that uses this fear to maintain conformity: what we call the Superego. We call the part of the mind devoted to language the Ego. The part of the mind that is like the other animals and is the whole mind for a pre-verbal infant, we call the Id.

The other popular models are Freud's, which uses concepts from pre-World-War-One Vienna, and Noam Chomsky's, which uses concepts from semantics. Neither model takes enough notice that we share much of our activities with other animals and need a part of the mind to do that. This is the Id and we couldn't live without it.

The Superego is conditioned by the circumstances to make us conformist, but circumstances in later life are going to require individuality. This conflict is called the "Oedipus Complex". Autonomy requires us to transcend this conflict.

Click to enlarge.

Evolving Utopia Part 19

Part 19: Turing And The Mind Model

If we want to restart social evolution we have to understand how we can change the pattern of behavior an individual exhibits. In the past this either just happened because of circumstances that were accidental, or some prophet found a way to articulate a new behavior pattern in the form of an ideology. We, however, would prefer to see how change happens independent of a specific ideological content. One place to start is to find a model for a behaving individual. We start with a robot.
Alan Turing was a british mathematician and cryptanalyst who devised a test for a robot with intelligence. He proposed having a telephone conversation with the robot (so the robot doesn't have to look like a human) and requiring that the human having the conversation guess whether the tested individual was a human or a robot. We will call a robot who passes the test a "Turing-Pass" robot.

In order to build a Turing-pass robot we have to know exactly what its functional parts are and how they go together. We don't know that for a natural human being.

Earlier we described the behavior pattern of an entity which exhibits behavior in terms of a matrix, where the matrix operates on the stimulus to generate a response. We can represent that in more detail by using a "black box" which contains components that have specific kinds of behavior. In the case of the behavior of a Turing-pass robot we use a "black box" with an internal structure as shown in Figure A1 below.

Figure A1

If Figure A1 is used to represent a domesticated animal the green section of the model will be minimal, since the animal will respond to a very small vocabulary and will generally not respond by making mouth-noises. An animal that was not domesticated would not have any of the green boxes at all.

On the other hand we would expect that a Turing-pass Robot would have a green section whose function was comparable to the language system of a human being. That means that we can use the "black box" of a Turing-pass robot as a model for the equivalent "black-box" of a human being.

Figure A2 shows the "black-box" model of a human being, in which the functional boxes of the Turing-pass robot provide the basis for the corresponding parts of a human being. The "black box" of a human being has parts that were originally labled by Freud (in German) and were given latin names by Jones when he translated Freud into english.

Figure A2

The part of the model structure that we are conscious of is the Ego. We need to be aware of that so that what we say to ourselves is as understandable as what we say to other people. We cannot directly communicate with the Superego because that is a filter for Ego-language that operates using Id-language. We can't directly communicate with the Id for the same reason. But both the Superego and the Id sometimes need to communicate with the ego; they just don't do it in ego-language.

What we do receive from the Superego is the simulated fear (called "free floating anxiety" or "existential dread") that it uses to control the Ego and Id. The main function of the Superego is to maintain conformity, so it allows the Ego to perceive various kinds of fear when it senses something nonconformist is happening. We typically call this fear "shame" or "guilt".

What we receive from the Id is simulated sensory events, such as dreams. We often call that reception "intuition".

The autonomous person has less Existential Dread and a more sensitive intuition.

Evolving Utopia Part 18

Part 18: Ethical Transaction

Let's consider a little parable ("parable" is what nonscientists call a gedankenexperiment).
Able is a shoemaker. He makes a pair of work shoes for himself and appreciates them greatly. He no longer has to worry about stepping on tacks. Then he makes a pair of slippers. Now he can be comfortable in front of the stove in the evening. Then a pair of winter boots, and a pair of sandals for summer. But at that point he has reached the end of his lust for footwear. He faces the workbench with a lack of enthusiasm.

By the time he makes himself a pair of dress pumps for formal wear he is beginning to get considerably less pleasure out of his work. Each pair of shoes he makes after that has less and less worth to him because they are merely adding to his surplus.

On the other hand, Able has only one shirt and it is beginning to show. He has to sit half-naked on wash day till it dries. He no longer wants to go out to formal occasions because his shirt shows spots of glue and is beginning to fray at the collar and cuffs.

Then Bert comes along. Bert is a wandering, shoeless, shirtmaker.

Bert and Abel fall on each other's shoulders. Abel gives Bert a pair of shoes and Bert gives Abel a pair of shirts.

Abel and Bert are both pleased.

The reason that both Abel and Bert are pleased is that both have received a positive benefit.

Each of them has exchanged an item from his surplus, which he values very little, for an item that he needs, and thus values very highly. Both parties to such an exchange benefit greatly in their own terms.

We are going to refer to this kind of transaction again, so it is worth giving it a name. We will call this kind of exchange an "Ethical Transaction".

The Ethical Transaction has the characteristics that:

1. each party to the transaction receives a positive benefit in terms of his or her own value system
2. each party enters into the transaction voluntarily; so the benefit is not simply the service of cessation of coercion

3. each party enters into the transaction knowledgeably and openly so that it is not a hidden form of exploitation

4. the transaction is not merely a cooperative exploitation of third parties (such as future generations),

The Ethical transaction is a beneficial interaction in which neither party is 'one-up' on or 'one-down' to the other or any third parties. The benefit to ethical transactions over and above the particular benefit that one receives from a particular ethical transaction, is that if you are ethical you are not affected by the elitist syndrome and therefore do not have to be alienated from your partner in the transaction, from yourself or from reality.

Being ethical allows you to be sane. But it isn't always possible.

This requirement that all our transactions be ethical is a more subtle requirement than appears at first sight. Let us consider the case of shoemakers Chris and Dale who want to sell in a small rural village in which all the residents are primarily conformist.

In that case we cannot say that either Chris or Dale have their own system by which they will value the shoes they make because, being conformists, they take their value system from the consensus of the other villagers. If there is a shortage of shoes in the village they will value the shoes they make highly no matter how many shoes they have that are surplus to their personal needs. Conversely, if there is a glut of shoes those shoes will have a small value no matter how much effort they entailed.

The buyers are equally constrained. They will value shoes based on the village consensus rather than their personal needs.

Thus the basis requirements for an ethical transaction are not met in a conformist culture.

The best that can be done in a conformist culture is to have all the sellers of a given kind of goods gather at a given place at a given time so that the price is the product of a consensus and not influenced by accidental considerations. In particular, Chris and Dale will both sell their shoes on a public square so that everyone knows what they are asking.

This is a sufficiently important concept in commerce that the economists call the venue for the exchange a "market" and the agreed on exchange value is called the "market value". The value in an ethical transaction the economists would call a "value in use".

If we look at a more densely populated culture, which has to be ideological, and look at transactions involving the fetish of an ideology, we see that it is even less possible to have an ethical transaction.

What exchange value in dollars would be asked for:

The ticket to heaven of a 'true-believer' fundamentalist?
The party card of a pre-glasnost, 'true believer' Marxist?

The corner office of a high-rise bureaucrat?

An obsessed gambler's 'luck' or an obsessed artist's 'talent'?

We think of it as 'natural' that we should exchange money for work and consider the money to be the motivation for work.

But this is as irrelevant as saying that Van Gogh was motivated to paint because his paintings now sell for millions of dollars. Van Gogh got almost nothing in exchange for his paintings. And while a Van Gogh may sell for millions, a reproduction or forgery that can only be told from the original by x-ray and chemical tests (i.e., that looks identical to the original) might be worth nothing.

This shows that the value of the Van Gogh is not in its aesthetic qualities but in its value as a fetish, an example of conspicuous consumption.

The clearest definition of the value of money was made by Nelson Rockefeller, a politician who was also very wealthy, when asked how much was "enough money".

Rockefeller answered "A little more."

There can be no surplus of money in our culture because money is a fetish. The more money the more status, charisma, magic.

Therefore in our society, Western Civilization, it is not possible to achieve an ethical transaction when money is one element of the exchange.

We should note, however, that Western Civilization, as a system in which money is the prime fetish, is not as bad as the societies that preceded it. The worship of money as a status-granting fetish is less of a social problem than the rigid social stratification of the preindustrial societies. Even if one is poor and untalented, if one is desperate enough it is always possible to get money without violence by illegal means, and thus it is always possible to achieve a degree of upward social mobility in a money-valued society.

In a society with a hereditary elite it is only possible to improve one's position by killing a lot of people, as was the case in dynastic struggles in societies with a warrior nobility and popular revolutions like those in France and America.

The potential upward-mobility in a money-based society mitigates to some degree the inherent alienation of social stratification. If the upwardly-mobile are perceived as equal-on-the-average because they obtained their money as a result of sacrifice or risk, there is less alienation on both sides. On the other hand, there is more resentment of "unearned" or inherited money in a money-valued culture.

This use of money as a status-fetish is the reason why crime flourishes even in nominally egalitarian societies. Crime is a way around the barriers to elite status that are created by those who are de facto elite.

It should be noted, however, that once the criminal becomes elite he will be alienated and cause alienation among the non-elite. The 'virtuous criminal' in folklore, like Robin Hood, never uses the money he steals to achieve elite status for himself; he steals in order to be the champion of the non-elite. Typically, a 'Robin Hood' figure is an exemplar of the Warrior Hostility fantasy, in which the elite are regarded as 'the enemy'.

Jesus commented that it is harder for a rich man to be saved, but he did not say it was impossible. One of the good things about money as a basis of status is that it is easier to give away than real estate or inherited position. Unfortunately, if one does give up money to lose the alienation caused by the use of money as a fetish, one gives up the convenience of the money as an exchange mechanism. Luckily, the ubiquity of computers will soon mean that there is no need for the convenience of a universal standard of value, because every commodity, including labor, can be valued in its own terms.

In order to look at what we might use as the basis for a post-industrial social infrastructure we have to see if we can avoid the evils of stratification by operating on the basis of ethical transactions. The method that was used in the Paleolithic was "equality-on-the-average" where the status of the shaman and warchief found compensation in the tactical difficulties inherent in the duties of the role.

We can translate this into a post-industrial economy by using the notion suggested in 1948 by Norbert Wiener (a pioneering mathematician who coined the word "cybernetics"). Wiener said that, in the future, no one would be allowed to work unless they could do something better than a robot or a computer. It may have been in his book The Human Use of Human Beings.

Wiener grew up in an "Old Yankee" academic atmosphere in Cambridge (his father was a professor at Harvard) so he never learned that, in our society, "conspicuous consumption", or the ability to waste resources in a public manner, is a status symbol. This means that the nonfunctional bureaucrats celebrated in comic strips like Dilbert do serve a function:their unproductivity acts as status symbols for their manager or employer.

Evolving Utopia Part 17

Part 17: Elitism

We can assume that the population of a Utopia might contain a scattering of Autonomous individuals, but it is not something we can count on. We have had no experience of situations where Autonomous individuals constitute a significant fraction of the population.
What we need to do, then, is figure out how relatively ordinary people will behave in a society where they have a chance to make free choices. Although living in an idiosyncratic culture gives us a larger degree of freedom than, say, an ideological culture like China or Saudi Arabia; we still have to have a strong conditioning to conformity to be able to use language. This means that whenever we are not conforming to the ordinary people around us, such as when we are in an elite minority stratum, we have to do something to compensate for the anxiety that results from the nonconformity.

In fact there is a general pattern of compensatory behavior that we can call the "Elitist Syndrome". There are three aspects:

1. The elite tend to live or engage in activities in areas that are restricted, by law or custom, to members of the elite stratum. We call these areas "Golden Ghettos".

2. When in contact with the non-elite the elite tend to behave in some stereotypical way. The classic example is the Englishman who "dresses for dinner" in a tropical jungle so as not to "go native". An elite wife might say "Not in front of the [children][servants]".

3. The elitist ideology generally contains a myth that explains the stratification, e.g., that their blood is "blue" rather than red, or that the non-elite are a different species.

This syndrome does not only occur in broad social stratification, but in personal relations. The classic example here is "Father knows best", which may be true in specific cases but is not a valid general principle. The attitudes of doctors and lawyers toward their clients, or managers toward employees, are often based on the elitist syndrome.

If point of fact, however, the non-elite are just as human as the elite so they respond with a reflection of the same syndrome.

1. The non-elite tend to live or engage in activities in areas that are (by law or custom) restricted to members of the non-elite stratum. We call this a "Ghetto".
2. When in contact with the elite the non-elite tend to behave in some stereotypical way. The classic example is the servile "Uncle Tom" syndrome. A more negative response is an attitude (real or false) of obdurate ignorance or dumb insolence.

3.The non-elite ideology generally contains a myth that explains the stratification, e.g., that the elite are an enemy and they are (temporarily) defeated warriors, or that they are elite in some esoteruc way that the elite dont know about. The "Warrior" ideology was institutionalized in the "Black Panther" movement. The classic form of "Esoteric superiority" is the Jewish myth that they are "God's Chosen People" which they maintained through centuries of persecution.

There is a particularly poignant example of the syndrome: the Nixon White House during the Watergate affair. What makes this interesting is that generally there are few or no reporters with an eye on the behavior of the non-elite. During Watergate the Nixon White House staff:

1. Made the Oval Office into a "Golden Ghetto"

2. Asked "Would this [behavior] play in Peoria?", as a test for maintaining the facade of having the same stereotypical behavior as middle-class, middle-west Americans.

3. Nixon was quoted as saying "The people are like children waiting to be led."

These are the ordinary reactions of a power elite; the kinds of things that justify Lord Acton's proverb "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Those actions are typical for a White House that has not totally banished toadies and sycophants. There is little new in this aspect.
What made the Watergate situation so special were the reactions of the non-elite; the rest of us.

1. Some of us said "Don't tell me, I don't want to know about it", thus creating a kind of intellectual ghetto.
2. Some of us said: "That can't be true:--he's the President", which is a symptom of an "Uncle Tom" attitude.

3.a Some of us said "All politicians are like that", which is an ideology of Esoteric Superiority, asserting that all politicians are morally inferior to all nonpoliticians. That is not likely to be true as there are probably a few honest and honorable politicians.

3.b Some of us said "Impeach now" long before there was any evidence of behavior that an uninvolved person would consider to demonstrate an impeachable activity; which is the expression of an ideology of Warrior Hostility.

What this shows us is that a large part of our reactions to Watergate were determined by the elite status of the President (and his hangers-on) in American life, rather than the facts of the case or any reasonably considered political attitude. We were simply reacting to the relatively elite status of the White House and its occupants.
This is not to say that there was no content to the Watergate affair, simply that the way we worked it out depended more on the Elitist syndrome than the ostensible content of the controversy.

The Gnostics in the period after Jesus crucifixion had an interesting type of organization.

When they met they cast lots and attendees were randomly assigned the roles of priest, bishop, deacon, etc., to carry out the appropriate parts of the mass. The orthodox were shocked, as most churchgoers would be now.

But it may provide a way to get out of the trap of the elitest syndrome.

Let's assume that we have a global population of 5-billion people. If there were councils of 12 people for each locality, with every member of the council representing 20,000 or so people, there would be 20,000 or so of these local councils. Each of these would send a representative to one of 1700 or so district councils.

Each of these 1700-odd district councils would send a representative to one of 144 regional councils. Each of these regional councils would send a representative to one of 12 "continental" councils. They would each send a representative to a global council who would make global policy. In every case effort would be made to settle any matter at the lowest possible level.

The way to avoid elitism is to have the members of the local council picked at random from the 250,000 people the local council represents. It would be easy to have that done by computer.

Then each of the representatives from each council would be chosen at random from the members of that council.

That way the governance of the globe would involve less than 250,000 people (Not counting staff, but most staff work would be done by computers.) In addition, the higher the level of council that one was involved in, the more council meetings one would have to attend, and so the more effort one would have to exert. That will make the members of the global council "Equal-on-the-average".

The officers of any of the councils, such as Chairperson and Secretary, along with the representative to the next higher council, would be chosen at random. That would emphasize that everyone is equal.

Whether or not this kind of structure would be effective is hard to judge because we don't know whether contemporary political ideas are simply accidents of circumstances or are based on inherent human qualities. I suspect this would work in something like the Utopia I have described elsewhere but whether it could solve the problems of a population of 5-billion is not obvious.

At any rate it is a way of organizing a global governmental infrastructure that doesn't require a political ideology because it works with units of 12 people or less.

evolving Utopia Part 16

Part 16: Levels Of Religion

Instinctive Level
The individual development archetype of the instinctive level is the pre-verbal infant. At this level the infant is all Id, not having found a need to speak. Thus the instinctive has no social archetype.The religious archetype is Mother Earth who fulfills all needs and makes no demands.

The Instinctive religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: "God is Love", i.e., the universe is expected to provide all that is needful.

Mythical: Cornucopia, the horn of plenty

Social: Feeding from the mother's breast.

Ethical: "Full belly is good, pain is bad"

Ritual: Gratifying a desire

Sensual: A full belly.

Comment: These characteristics are "normal" for the pre-verbal infant. If they are exhibited by a toddler, child or adolescent the individual is said to be "spoiled". As adult behavior it would be considered sociopathic.
Compliant Level
The individual development archetype of the compliant level is the toddler. The toddler has a sense of the need for survival but not enough accumulated experience to evaluate the potential risk in new events. By being compliant to the parent the toddler applies the technique of avoiding those things that the parent is afraid of.

The social archetype for the compliant is the nuclear family where each member is attuned to the others' feelings. The religious archetype is a patriarchal, authoritarian God.

The Compliant religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: "Father knows best", unquestioning acceptance of authority.
Mythical: "Big Daddy"

Social: The contented family.

Ethical: It is bad when people are upset.

Ritual: stroking, family gatherings

Sensual: an absence of anxiety

Comment: This can be exhibited by an overly-protected child.

Conformist Level
The individual development archetype of the conformist level is the child in a group of contemporaries. This is a survival tactic in that no individual in the group has the experience to deal with all potential dangers. By being conformist to the group centroid the child avoids anything that any significant number of members of the group avoid. In effect this pools the group's experience of dangers and makes each individual safer.

The social archetype of the conformist is the paleolithic hunter-gatherer tribe. The religious archetype is the tribe itself.

The Conformist religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: We are the people.

Mythical: We are the only people.

Social: Being a person with us.

Ethical: What we do is good, what we don't do is bad.

Ritual: Acting with the tribe

Sensual: Togetherness.

Comment: This, as opposed to ideology, can be exhibited in small, backward rural villages.
Ideological Level
The Ideological religious archetype is worship of an Idol that represents a God with an authoritarian priesthood. This was the ordinary form of religion from the invention of agriculture to the 1500s of the common era. In the 21st century the more usual form of idolatry is total devotion to a political ideology. In either case the mark of the ideologue is having only one source for truth.

The contemporary individual development archetype of the ideologue is the adolescent. The contemporary adolescent is trying to develop a sense of self and thus needs to be able to do without the tactics of compliance or conformity. Ideology works because it is based on absolutes.

The social archetype is the agricultural city-state from the late neolithic to the middle ages.

The Ideological religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: God's word is law.
Mythical: God is the only source of order in the universe

Social: Marching in the Army of God

Ethical: Law and Order

Ritual: Kowtowing to the Idol

Sensual: Commitment and acceptance of discipline

Comment: This is normal in small rural villages but can be exhibited in ethnic enclaves in cities.
Idiosyncratic Level
Viewed in terms of its own concepts, everything we normally recognize as a religion is an ideology. But very few members of contemporary developed (i.e., industrial) societies take post-Neolithic religions seriously on their own terms. They have discovered that no simple ideology fits every situation, so they patch up a personal ideology or group of superstitions that will not conflict too badly with their lifestyle. This personal ideology may not be selfconsistent and certainly has no overt popular following or public reinforcement so it is not as satisfying as a preindustrial ideology.

On the other hand individuals like Oral Roberts or Joseph Lieberman who do claim an orthodox ideology are regarded as embarrassing because they are not obviously hypocritical, but neither are they convincing role models. The more convincing leaders of "superchurches" or cults based on traditional terminology, are charismatic individuals whose theology is just individual enough that they give their followers a cult-credo to gather around.

The social archetype is the industrial city in which there are so many different examples of ethnicity and ideology that no one of them has the kind of support that was common in post-neolithic agricultural city states.

The religious archetype is an "Age of Anxiety". An age of anxiety is a period in which idiosyncratic ideologies are the norm. These personal belief-structures, cobbled up out of various myths by the individual to meet his or her individual needs, are the norm in industrial societies that are too technologically advanced, egalitarian or romantically individualist to be able to take a central ideology seriously. While they provide a level of ideology that allows the individual to function they do not provide the public reinforcement of the preindustrial religions.

This means that the individual is continually encountering experiences that do not reinforce his or her idiosyncratic ideology, which produces anxiety. Idiosyncratic societies are thus characterized by an average level of anxiety that is high enough to be observable by poets and sociologists.

The 1950s in the United States was particularly characterized as an age of anxiety. The effect of the Hippie movement in the 1960s was to make tranquilizers and non-legal drugs more easily accessible and thus reduce the observable level of anxiety in the US.

The Idiosyncratic religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: The absence of an easily comprehended doctrine is what makes the anxiety hard to conceal. The conflicts between private and public interests, democracy and public health and safety, entrepreneurship and public welfare, science and religion are all examples of doctrinal inconsistency in an idiosyncratic society. Note that these conflicts are not between "good" and "evil" as seen by an ideologue, they are conflicts between two "goods" that (in their idealized or extreme form) are not consistent with one another.
Mythical: the conflict between individual freedoms and civil rights or public welfare

Social: Alienation, being "Lonely in a Crowd"

Ethical: The Social Contract (as amended by case law). Since there is no consistent set of values, "right" is determined by who has the most cogent argument in a specific case. The central ethical activity is litigation.

Ritual: politics and litigation

Sensual: Anxiety or Existential Dread

Commentary: This is the characteristic state of the mature adult in the latter part of the Industrial Age. When the idiosyncratic ideology functions, as in a CPA with a perfectionist obsession or a paranoid security officer, it is called "mental health". When the idiosyncratic ideology does not function well it is called "mental illness". "Mental illness" is most successfully treated with drugs that dull the awareness of the intrinsic conflicts of the idiosyncratic society.
Creative Specialist Level
The individual development archetype of the creative specialist is the artist or creative scientist. As a religious archetype the specialist has a "muse" that convinces him or her that the activity they are engaged in is a search for truth or beauty on a scale that is absolute compared with the local ideologies of ordinary people.

The social archetype is a "bohemia". A bohemia is an enclave named for the quarter of medieval Paris that held middle-european students at the University of Paris. It contains a population of artists-manque and pseudo-artists who may not themselves be creative in any significant sense but are nonconformist in a style that creative artists can be comfortable with.

This provides a ghetto that isolates the artist from the average members of society (i.e., philistines) and allows the artist to exhibit greater levels of nonconformity than the ordinary society would tolerate. Thus the bohemians, or, as they were called in the most recent era in which bohemians were trendy, plastic hippies, create an ambiance which fosters artistic creativity without themselves being creative.

Typical bohemias include the Latin (Student) Quarter in late medieval Paris, Montmartre at the turn of the century and the Rive Gauche in 1920s Paris, Greenwich Village in New York in the 1930s and the East Village in the 1960s, Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 1970s. A teaching or research institution can serve as a bohemia for academic or scientific intellectuals.

The religious dimensions for a creative specialist are:

Doctrinal: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" or, for the scientific specialist, "Truth is beauty, beauty truth"
Mythical: That there exists some discoverable aesthetic or scientific absolute

Social: Being with other artist/scientists when not alone with work.

Ethical: "Art (or Science) for Art's (or Science's) sake"

Ritual: creative work

Sensual: Obsession with moments of the Eureka feeling.

Commentary: The "Eureka feeling" is associated with Archimedes, who is known for his theorem on the weight of a body immersed in a liquid. A famous story, unfortunately with no foundation, relates that after Archimedes discovered the principle while in the bath, he ran naked through the streets crying, "Eureka," or "I have found it."
Those who have created some new work of art or science often experience such a feeling: an ecstatic version of a sense of accomplishment. It may be the release of the tension between the Id and the Superego over who will be the primary influence on the Ego.

Autonomous Level
The individual development archetype of the psychologically autonomous individual is the Gnostic pneumatic or Buddhist Bodhisattva who has transcended the illusions of the idolater or idiosyncrat, a Zen Master, or Maslow's individual who has transcended self actualization. Examples, in addition to those mentioned, might include Shaw's "Realist" or Caesar.

The religious archetype is God in the Gnostic sense, or The Tao of Lao Tzu's Taoism: not an anthropomorphic idol, but the representation of a subtle kind of order that is pervasive but defies encapsulation in verbal formulae.There is no known social archetype. Bodhisattvas like Gautama Buddha or Jesus tend to appear singly. Even in the prime of Zen Buddhism, as reflected in its literature, there is nothing corresponding to a social group of Zen Masters. We can guess that a psychologically autonomous society might be completely egalitarian with the only authority being ad hoc and temporary.

The religious dimensions for a psychologically autonomous person are:

Doctrinal: Know yourself and you will love yourself, your neighbor and God.

Mythical: God is in everything; everything is in God

Social: Respect everyone as an aspect of God

Ethical: Harmony

Ritual: Being

Sensual: Union with God and the universe.

Comment: The Autonomous individual is difficult to observe because so few of them are available for comparison with ordinary people. One can presume that Jesus and Gautama were autonomous because of the beliefs they inspired, and because Shaw's and Hammett's fictional characters were autonomous we can assume that they were, and Zen Masters and Gnostic pneumatics exhibited autonomous behavior patterns; but examples have not been available for scientific study.

Evolving Utopia Part 15

Part 15: Dimensions Of Religion

Ninian Smart, a student of traditional religions, developed a system of aspects (which he calls dimensions) of religion. They provide a framework against which religions can be compared. These dimensions also give us a framework to compare the typical attitude at each level with characteristics of typical traditional religions. The dimensions are:
The doctrinal dimension represents the articulation of the belief-structure. In most traditional religions the doctrinal dimension is marked by a "Creed" which is designed to separate the followers of that religion from the followers of other religions or heretical sects. As an example, the Nicene Creed of the Christian Church was designed to separate mainstream christianity from followers of the Arian heresy.


The mythical dimension includes the symbolic (i.e., artistic) representation of the beliefs.


The ethical dimension involves all those restrictions on individual interpersonal behavior that are imposed by the religion.


The sensual dimension is the subjective experience associated with the practice of the religion. This can, for example, include such things as mystical ecstasy or fellowship with other worshipers.


The ritual dimension is the expression of the individual's relationship with the deity expressed in the form of action. This can include participation in group actions like worship, but it can also include individual actions like prayers.


The social dimension is the expression of religious beliefs in terms of group action. Communal worship is ritual, but evangelism or missionary activity is social. The structure of the religious society or church is reflective of the beliefs of the religion, sometimes unintentionally.

On the next page we will look at how these dimensions are expressed in the "levels" of religion based on Fowler's analysis. These will be condensed into a catch phrase, where that communicates the appropriate sense, or expanded into a discussion where that is warranted.

Evolving Utopia Part 14

Part 14: What Next?

This essay has provided us with a number of controversial notions. We created an entity, the Deus ex Machina, or "DeM", that is more-or-less a model of God (if God exists) and which resolves at least some of the paradoxes of quantum theory. We used the History of the Universe that the DeM (and presumably God, if God exists) perceives to create a matrix that describes the pattern of behavior of anything that exhibits behavior.
With that we showed that the notion of specific creation by an intelligent designer is unnecessary to evolve complex organs and entities, as long as we use Darwin's evolutionary principle (non-survival of the unfit) rather than Spencer's principle (survival of the fittest). Darwin's principle is the proper scientific rule and both Intelligent Design and Spencer's rule should be regarded as unscientific and not taught in schools.

The notion of Intelligent Design is not only a religious rather than scientific notion, but it is based on a primitive religious model. We have shown that a DeM (and presumably God, if God exists) is consistent with Darwin's version of evolution.

We also showed that human societies are based on mutual conformity so we can get the maximum use out of our facility for mouth-noise communication. We operated on the principle of mutual conformity for the first 50,- to 100,000 years of our existence, five to ten times as long as our written history.

When we discovered the idea of agriculture we could produce more than we consumed, and we had a surplus to support skilled technologists and to store for emergencies. This let us have a population explosion, and we had to invent popular religion to keep a city-based culture ("civilization") stable. The competition between city-states created empires and produced a class of warrior aristocrats and kings who took over secular administrations. They needed status symbols to show they were important.

Around 1500 Calvin invented a way to make middle-class upward mobility compatible with religion, and we kept doing that until getting status by wasting resources became hazardous to species survival. Since 1950 our society has reversed its progress toward a global egalitarian civilization, and, as a result, our society has become unstable. This culminated in the fiscal crash of 2008 and the election of Barack Hussein Obama.

We will assume that Barack Hussein Obama will manage provide a degree of stabilization to the financial industry by setting rules that will make it difficult to create the same kinds of financial bubbles. That does not guarantee that people will not invent new ways to create other kinds of products that will facilitate speculation in new kinds of bubbles. That kind of activity will persist as long as status can be obtained by the acquisition of money or things that can be valued in money.

It is likely to be the case that Barack Hussein Obama has so much personal charisma that, as long as he does not completely fail to prevent the decline and fall of Western Civilization, the fraction of the elite that constitutes the establishment of governmental bureaucracy will remain dominant for a few decades. But he is mortal, and when he is replaced by someone with more pedestrian qualities, we will be back facing the same threat of collapse because the environmental crisis cannot be solved if we are still wasting resources to prove status.

In addition, while the simple accession of Barack Hussein Obama to the leadership of Western Civilization, without any specific political actions, will raise the hopes of the external proletariat and reduce their support of the guerilla warfare of terrorist organizations, it will not reduce the ambitions of the leadership of those groups. They will continue their guerilla warfare until they are convinced that the egalitarianism that might be brought to Western Civilization by Barack Hussein Obama will apply to the global population, and that can only happen if we stop associating status with the display of resource consumption.

And that can only happen if we make a deliberate effort to change our myths and values: in other words, change our religions.

Luckily, conspicuous consumption is not an essential part of any of the major religions: it was not preached by Jesus, or Gautama, or Mohammed, or the Zen Masters, or even explicitly by Luther or Calvin. It is something that has crept into our belief-structure as an imitation of the status symbols of the medieval warlords of the dark ages. Ecological responsibility is something that can be added to the values appreciated by modern religions. All we have to do is understand the functional structure of modern religions so we can fit it in.

But we have to understand the structure and characteristics of religion, without getting bogged down in the particular content of myth or ritual.

That will be discussed in the following chapters.

Evolving Utopia Part 13

Part 13: Paradoxes Exploded

One of the quotations that stuck in my mind long before I understood its significance was one that, in several versions, is attributed to Albert Einstein. He explained his objection to quantum mechanics by saying: "God may be a rascal, but he is not a gambler".
This can be taken to refer to the gedanken-experiment of Schrodinger's cat, where a radioactive source is set up to trigger a lethal experience for a cat in a closed container. Clearly the cat is found to be either alive or dead when the container is opened, but what is its state before the container is opened? Quantum theory would say that the cat is both alive and dead but, of course, the human observer can only observe a dead cat or a live one. This is regarded as a paradox.

But Schrodinger's cat is a paradox only because the postulated observer is human.

To a Deus ex Machina of the kind we defined earlier, the cat is clearly alive on one branch of its lifeline, and dead on another. Since the DeM observes both branches of the lifeline, there is no paradox. The paradox only exists if we expect that the human experimenter has the same powers as the DeM, which is clearly false to fact.

The problem here is that orthodox science has the tradition of avoiding any reference to religion. This means that in parables like Schrodinger's cat, in which the observer is required to have superhuman vision that can see into the box, must be set up with an observer who has the perceptive abilities of an ordinary human. In T. D. Lee's parable describing the Canonical Ensemble in Statistical Mechanics, the heat sink is presumed to be an infinite array of weakly interacting copies of the system under study, which clearly cannot be built by an ordinary human, but would be no problem for a DeM.

So the kinds of paradoxes like Schrodinger's Cat can be resolved without difficulty if we remove the constraint against using supernatural objects or entities in science as long as the use requires that, in the end, the supernatural object is not the subject of a real observation by a human observer. That should, possibly with a little rephrasing, resolve any of these kinds of paradoxes.

In the case of Einstein's quip, the false assumption is reversed. Since "God" is not limited to human perceptions, and would have at least the perceptions of the DeM, which is merely a mathematical model, there is no necessity for God to gamble: if there are two possible outcomes, God observes both. (At least the DeM can observe both if it cares to.)

The assumption that God is as limited in its perceptions as we are, which is at the implicit basis of most, if not all, quantum paradoxes, is entirely unnecessary. Einstein's God clearly had feet of clay.

This kind of theological assumption, that the qualities of God should be restricted to the perceptual limitations of a human being, is what makes historical theology inferior to science as a species of intellectual endeavor. There is no reason to retain this limitation.

If we consider the evolution of human beings from a theological standpoint, there is no reason that God should have created us (presumably through the process of evolution) with a facility for thought that stopped with some particular theologian or prophet. Just as in science we keep poking at the present accepted set of natural laws to see if we can find a glitch, I suspect that God would have created in us a facility for doing our best to understand our experiences; especially those that relate to God and ourselves.

We have an obligation to God (if there is one) to do the best we can, and not get intellectually lazy just because somebody has had a particularly striking theological insight. Jesus, Gautama and Mohammed were great contributors to the relationship between us and the universe, but they weren't gods, no matter what some may believe. If we can do better, if we can incorporate the understanding of new experiences into their insights, then we have the obligation to do so.

This essay to this point has illustrated how science, as the study of the natural world, and theology, as the study of the order in the universe that we call "God", can work hand in hand to point a way for the human species to live in accord with the workings of the planet we reside on. We can hope that other creative workers in science and theology will work together to make these notions deeper and more universal.

Evolving Utopia Part 12

Part 12: The Industrial Revolution (1500-1950)

When Roman Civilization collapsed there was no longer a civil service to bring back status symbols from far places. Individual traders replaced them, and they got rich. This wasn't entirely satisfactory because the status symbols only worked for the descendants of the warlords of the middle ages, which left the traders and bankers rich but still common.

Calvin solved this problem. He invented a new kind of aristocracy, the Elect, who were directly appointed by God over the heads of the existing social and religious hierarchy. The sign of being elect was God-given prosperity, so Calvinism became a religion of upward-mobility for the middle-class through the acquisition of money. This process continued for the next few centuries.

The traders had taken advantage of the new technology of sailing ships and traded junk or cheap hardware for status symbols. The planters used the technology of slavery on big plantations to become the new establishment. In North America they fought a ("Revolutionary") war to get out from under the old aristocracy.

Meanwhile, english mechanics like Sam Slater had brought over textile machinery and adapted it to New England's water power and, later, steam. These industrialists made machinery that could be operated by women and children and got very rich. In the American Civil War they broke the power of the southern planters and became the establishment.

By the turn of the century they were building mansions in Newport and marrying their daughters to impoverished european aristocrats and they left their factories to be run by the clerks and mechanics. The clerks and mechanics turned the stock certificates into gambling chips and themsevles into a bureaucracy of managers and engineers.

By the World Wars and depression they had replaced the owners and joined the government bureaucracy in the "Managerial Revolution". They also used the G. I. Bill to turn a generation of potential workers into junior bureaucrats who aped their betters by conspicuously consuming imitation status symbols.

By 1950 it was clear that there weren't enough resources to waste the way the bureaucrats of Western Civilization were wasting them, so there was a concerted effort to prevent the external proletariat and the internal proletariat (mostly people of color) from being upwardly mobile.

Western Civilization became more and more closed to immigrants (now stigmatized as "illegal"), and wars and dictatorships were encouraged among undeveloped countries. In the mideast the rebellion against this repression stimulated fundamental Islam, and in Latin America it stimulated a Bolivarian revolutionary movement. In both areas certain groups were able to use oil resources to empower these populist movements.

The bureaucrats who became the dominant minority at the turn of the century divided into two parts, the government bureaucrats and the corporate bureaucrats. The government bureaucrats (represented by the Democratic Party) were dominant during the Great Depression and World War 2, and used that momentum to maintain dominance through 1980.

The corporate bureaucrats took control then and maintained it until the administration of George W. Bush, who lied to start an unpopular war that was very profitable for his supporters. In 2008 it was clear that the Democrats, even with a candidate who was a person of color, were likely to win the election; so the housing market was allowed to collapse and the financial rescue plan allowed the corporate bureaucrats to loot the treasury for hundreds of billions of dollars. The stock market created a paper loss of tens of trillions of what was called "wealth", although it was smoke and mirrors.

That assured the election of Barack Hussein Obama.

Obama's primary motto was "change", and it was certainly clear that the decadence of the corporate establishment made change necessary. But it is not clear whether the change Obama has in mind is merely a changeover back to control by the government bureaucrats or a fundamental change that will empower a new level of egalitarianism. It appears that his intent is to maintain the Internet as the vehicle for a movement that will be based on egalitarianism, ecological responsibility, and creativity; which, if it became the "Universal Religion" of the end of the industrial period would provide a basis for a Utopia. But it is not clear whether Western Civilization is ready for that kind of ideology.

So it may well be that an ideology or religion of global egalitarianism and global ecological responsibility will not be invented until it is necessary, for instance as a rallying cry for the next "Creative Minority" to meet the challenge of rebuilding a civilization on the ruins of ours.

Only when the cooperative effort of all the talent and resources of the world is necessary for our species to survive will it be likely for that kind of religion/ideology to become popular.

But it seemed equally unlikely that a person of color like Barack Hussein Obama would be elected president in the beginning of the twenty-first century; so perhaps "unlikely" is as obsolete as party politics. In any case Obama's rhetoric will provide a direction for the next civilization even if we are not ready for a new, structurally different, civilization without some cleansing trauma.

What is necessary now is to understand the dynamics of religion and ideology as best we can so as to encourage the change when it becomes possible.

Evolving Utopia Part 11

Part 11: The Neolithic

About ten thousand years ago we discovered that we could eat the grains of some grassy plants. This had some advantages that we couldn't say "no" to. A farmer could (in the right environment) produce more grain than he, or even his family, could eat. Even more important, grain could be stored in a dry environment so that the tribe could survive through a season of bad crops.

But this created a problem. The more farmers the more surplus, which created a strong motivation for an increased population. If we continued to govern ourselves by mutual conformity this would result in an unstable society. In addition we could not move our crops easily, so that the traditional method of fission and migration was not available.

The method of stabilization we chose still remains active. Our shaman said that we all had to worship his muse, who was a super-shaman like Hermes or Odin. That put us in a Bose-Einstein distribution in behavior space so that our society was stable as long as we had a powerful central religion. The shaman, who represented the tribe to the muse, became a priest who represented the god to the tribe and partook of the god's authority.

This allowed him to take the surplus grain and store it for bad years and also use some of it to support technical specialists like potters and metalsmiths.

Eventually the village had to hire barbarians to guard the reserve grain from raiding barbarians and their leader became the king. The king's muse, a super-warlord like Zeus or Yahweh, took over and became the top god.

Although we retain aspects of the post-Neolithic civilizations such as community religions with a Super-king as the top god and authoritarian priests, in recent years priests have to share authority with secular bureaucrats.

According to Wikipedia: "Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1950) was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, (1934-1961), was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global perspective."

It contained a description of the life-cycle of a [post-Neolithic] civilization in five steps:

(1) The creation of the civilization by a "Creative Minority" meeting a challenge.
(2) When the challenge is met the civilization is taken over by the "Dominant Minority" who rule by coercion.

(3) The "External Proletariat", affected by the civilization but not in it, maintain pressure at the boundaries.

(4) The External Proletariat provides mercenaries to the Dominant Minority to enforce their dominance. When the Dominant Minority gets decadent that Palace Guard takes over ruling the civilization and runs it into the ground.

(5) The "Internal Proletariat", the alienated non-elite of the civilization, seek escape through new religious cults.

The post-Neolithic civilizations were eventually replaced by Western (i.e., euro-american) Civilization whose characteristics were dominated by technological development. We are now experiencing the terminal period of that phase of civilization.

Evolving Utopia Part 10

Part 10: Specialists

In ordinary times during the paleolithic, when there are no crises, the normal social structure, a discussion leading to a consensus, works quite nicely. Sometimes, however, it isn't fast enough.
If the tribe, or a sub-group like a hunting party, has to act in a cooperative way in a rapid timescale; the most effective method is to have one person in charge and the others simply obey his tactical commands. This is particularly the case when the prey (or predator) is a "barbarian"; an animal that looks pretty much like us but doesn't speak a human (i.e., our) language. (The greeks thought barbarians only said "".)

This hunting chief (or war chief) has executive power only during the crisis, but it is still a role that is strongly nonconformist. The hunting chief has to act in a way that compensates for the nonconformity or his actions will destabilize the mutually conformist tribe.

In a similar way an environmental crisis may occur that does not respond to conventional actions and creates anxiety in the tribe. If someone gets sick, or a grove of trees doesn't bear like it used to, or a storm keeps the gatherers home till the stores are used up, someone needs to respond to the situation. Nowadays we use the siberian word "shaman" for such a person.

The shaman tells everyone what to do and maybe sets up a theatrical ritual so they have something to do. The sick person gets well or dies, the grove bears late or we switch to another nut or fruit, the storm eventually ends; and the shaman has solved the problem. But the shaman has to do it in a magical way that restores the tribe's confidence without being nonconformist in a way that destabilizes the tribe.

The shaman and the hunting chief have two tricks that allow them to live in equilibrium with the conformity of the rest of the tribe. First they are "equal-on-the-average" in that they take actions that the rest of the tribe considers very risky. That risky behavior assures that "on the average" the war-chief and the shaman are not better off than everyone else.

Typically the hunting chief takes actions in the hunt (or in combat) that are more dangerous or "heroic" than ordinary hunters (or warriors).

Typically the shaman goes through a trying apprenticeship and often goes into a deathlike trance that is heroic on the spiritual level.

If the tribe comes to believe the hunting chief or shaman is not "equal on the average", the tribespeople become alienated and the social structure falls apart.

This takes care of the public relations part of the actions of the chief and shaman, it makes them right with the tribe. There is also a psychological action that they take to make them right with themselves.

They typically have a "spirit helper" or "muse" that is superhuman and gives them permission to be nonconformist. These muses are personal, however, and the ordinary members of the tribe, who don't break any major taboos, have no need to relate to a muse.

Agriculture changes the whole picture.

Evolving Utopia Part 9

Part 9: The Paleolithic

We cannot observe the first humans, but there are things we can use as reasonable assumptions: they lived in Africa by gathering fruits, nuts, roots and tubers, scavenging carrion and, when their technology was up to it, hunting and fishing. They took care of their children because human children need care for a few years before they can do useful things. We know about these kinds of things because we do them ourselves and are aware of them.
There were people in the 16th to 19th century who were still in a relatively primitive state because they had been pushed to the fringes by others and had to spend all their energy on survival. From what we know about them we can assume that they shared their resources and made their decisions by consensus most of the time. They didn't have an authority to regulate behavior, but used teasing and nagging to control those who did not behave properly.

This is all characteristic of people whose behavior is based on mutual conformity. And there is a very good reason for that.

The characteristic that distinguishes homo sapiens sapiens from the other still extant primates is that we communicate by using abstract mouth-noises. Other species use mouth-noises to communicate emotions, but homo sapiens alone can communicate abstractions.

That kind of communication has one strong requirement: everyone in the communication group must use the same noises to mean the same thing. This is the significance of the parable of the Tower of Babel--if we don't all use the same mouth-noises for the same thing we can't take advantage of the sophisticated cooperation that mouth-noise communication makes possible.

Thus is is extremely important that we be mutually conformist in order to survive as human beings.

Mutual conformity is not uncommon in animal species. Ants and bees, for instance, are highly conformist because it is a genetic trait. But humans can't be conformist to that degree.

Ants, bees, schooling fish, and other conformist animals are born as clones and are conformists from birth. Humans take a long time to be a contributing member of the tribe, so they represent a large community investment. They have to learn to survive independently between the time when they move by themselves and they contribute to the tribe. The species can't tolerate the possibility that a mistake will take several children who were doing the same thing.

So we have an inherent problem.

We have the advantage of mouth-noise communication, but it requires us to be bivalent: individualistic and conformist at the same time. This can be represented by a Fermi-Dirac distribution in behavior space; we want to conform to the centroid of the group, but the need for individuality keeps us from all being in the same cell.

Immediately it sets a limit on local group population. If there are too many individuals there will be two who are so different that there is a lot of tension. The tribe tends to fission to preserve tranquility.

When we are surrounded by other tribes and can't fission we have to control population by infanticide, and the only criterion available to paleolithic technology is to select out those infants who don't look like the rest of us.

The result of a series of fissions, migrations and infanticide is that, as a species:

(a) we will be found more widely distributed than other related species who don't use mouth-noise communication,

(b) we will have a strong local resemblance which will probably be correlated with dialect. We call the local resemblance "race".

(c) Although there will be a variety of appearance in our distribution we remain one species, i.e., we can interbreed.

That characterization is unique to homo sapiens sapiens.

We lived for 50- to 100,000 years in such a small group governed by mutual conformity, with no hierarchy. If anything, that is the most "natural" form of human society. As we will see, the other systems we have tried are not stable. What we need to do is invent a social infrastructure compatible with technology and as democratic and stable as a paleolithic tribe.